Fire Up Those NaNoWriMo Engines

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So it all starts tomorrow. The typeface flag drops at midnight, then we’re off to the writing races, and I think this is the first year that I am not feeling nervous, only excited. I’ve even logged into the NaNoWriMo site at this point, so I mean it.

I think one of the best parts about NaNoWriMo is the change that can happen from one end of the month to the other. If you’re doing a traditional NaNo (this year, I am not) you can start Day 1 with absolutely nothing and end on Day 30 with something you’ve created from that nothing. That’s the best kind of magic.

In my case, this NaNo is all about unfinished business. I’m taking the manuscripts that are nearly done, partially done, almost done, and getting them to a first-draft ending. I’ve dubbed it my NaNoFiMo, or “finishing month.” Their unfinished states needled me, nagged at me, even when I didn’t know it was happening, so I’m bringing them home.

Well, technically, they’re already home, but you know what I mean.

NaNo is usually about fresh starts, clean, new pages, untainted beginnings, but that’s not what I wanted this year. It’s not what I needed this year.

We’ll see how it goes, the gathering of (at least) 50,000 words as November goes on, scattered across universes, across ideas, perhaps across genres. Each one finished a small personal victory.

Because that’s what NaNo is really about. It’s personal victory. It’s taking a challenge for no other reason than because you want to, because you’ve chosen to take it on.

Everyone limber up your typing fingers. We’re nearly there.

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Six NaNoWriMo Tips from a Veteran

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So I’ve done NaNoWriMo a bunch of times. How many? I don’t know, I haven’t really kept track, but I’ve gone through it enough to have enough advice to share. Of course your NaNo experience and mine might be different, which leads me into the first point:

1. Don’t compare yourself to everyone else. NaNoWriMo is something you are doing for yourself, and only yourself. Maybe you prefer to do large chunks of writing on the weekends. Maybe, like me, you like to watch your progress evenly grow over a handy-dandy chart. Do what works for you, and don’t worry about what everyone else is doing, because:

2. Someone will always, always have more words than you. There are some people who claim to finish in three days; I don’t know maybe they do. I’ve seen someone claim they’ve written a million words in the month. My question is always which words? Don’t let it overwhelm you or discourage you because:

3. Some days, the writing itself will be discouraging enough. It is tough to write every day. It is tough to write that much in a month, once the newness wears off. And it is typical, while working on something to get stuck and not know where to go. That can be discouraging. Just remember you can:

4. Always set a timer. See how many words you can type before the clock runs out. It’s a race with yourself that can get your brain going before it has time to worry or time to think. Once you get some momentum behind you, like most things, it builds on itself to get going. But if you find that still doesn’t work:

5. Take a break. Get some exercise, take a walk, watch a little bit of TV. Let your mind leave your book for the moment. Give your subconscious a chance to breathe, to work on it on its own. Something might inspire you during the time away from the work. Still not inspired? Well, then:

6. Do something you want to do even less than write. This one is my surefire fixer for procrastination. The minute I start in on the dishes, or cleaning the bathtub, or anything else I don’t actually want to do, inspiration tends to hit and hit hard. It’s like fighting procrastination with procrastination, and everyone knows there’s no stronger force in the universe.

Check out  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only).

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So Long, Laziness

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OK, laziness interlude is over, though it was pretty nice while it lasted. Still, there’s something about getting back to it, to seeing the work stretch ahead of you, to the challenge of getting through it.

A finished manuscript is not a finished book. And with NaNoWriMo, or in my case, NaNoFiMo (I really should log into the site before November 1) rushing toward us, I need to take some steps toward completion before I can’t see anything beyond the end of my keyboard.

Though who knows, maybe the entirely different set of problems to solve will be a fun break during the writing madness.

So I will try to be a good blogger, and a good tweeter, and a good finisher now that I’ve had a little time to regroup. Though we’ll see how the blogging will go in the throes of NaNoWriMo. But sometimes, the best thing about having a lot on your plate is getting to taste it all.

Meanwhile, I will keep you posted about the metamorphosis from manuscript to book as it emerges from its little literary cocoon. I’m excited to share some details, but it’s just not time yet. Soon, though.

I don’t usually throw myself into another book so quickly, or in the case of this year’s NaNo, books. I generally give myself a little more space between, but I am actually looking forward to getting back to it nearly immediately. Maybe it will become a habit.

Maybe it will become the stuff of legendary bad ideas.

I’ll never know until I try. I might find myself nostalgic for the laziness.

Check out  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only).

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I’ve Finished

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Whew. After all the endless rounds of editing, I have finished my book.

It’s a strange feeling, right after you’re done. It’s as though the bubble that you were once inside closes, and this thing floats off on its own, separate, complete. All this work cements itself, and becomes something else, something no longer pliable.

It’s right on time, too, seeing as how NaNoWriMo starts in just a few days, and there was no way I could do both. So I think I am going to take a few days (as strongly recommended to me by a wise, wise person) to rest, regroup, and get ready.

Even with this one done, or, at least, essentially done, even now, in the wake of tiredness the finishing leaves behind, I’m excited for my NaNoFiMo, for the challenge of dusting off the ghosts of manuscripts past and seeing what they hold. Maybe it’s a kind of writing-based amnesia, wanting to jump on the merry-go-round again while still dabbing my scrapes with the first-aid ointment. Maybe it’s some type of delusion.

But let’s face it. Most of us who write of fiction are deluded in some way.

Whatever it may be, I’m glad that completion is leading straight into creation. Because as difficult as it is shaping words to your will, the satisfaction when you’ve managed is worth it.

Check out  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only).

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Who Needs Tomorrow? The Future is Today

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We are, without doubt, living in the future. Huge portions of our lives take place somewhere that doesn’t even exist, not in the physical sense, anyway. In our pockets and purses, we carry the kind of computing power that once couldn’t possibly be achieved by full rooms of machines, whirring away as hard as they could. We have a probe gathering data on the surface of another planet.

Another planet.

And here’s the strange thing, when you think about it: there is yet still more future to come. Technology evolves, so fast sometimes it feels as though it’s spinning ever outward toward things of which, from here, we can’t possibly conceive. Our culture, a much more slow-moving, plodding beast, struggles to keep up with it.

There times where I find myself remarking, often to myself, that I love living in the future. I love the internet and the universe it offers. I love easy information, once the treasure in a hunt through card catalogs and careful paging through indices, now in front of me at any time a question strikes my fancy.

It’s ironic, because I watch nearly every period drama that comes my way, studying the details, the nuances, the flavor and cadence of life in another era. Flounces and corsets and fringed dresses and circle skirts, whatever decade, whatever century, I watch them.

But not with any sense of nostalgia. Not with any longing for a time I’d be constantly be battling for breath against the crush of whale bones. Not for a time when transportation came with four legs and I’d be grateful for it.

It’s almost with a sense of relief, a sense of knowing how it could have been, and feeling lucky I live now, when every day confirms the future is now.

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Beating Shiny Thing Distraction

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If you can’t tell from the last few posts, my mind is already on November. Not that I want this year to fly by any faster than it has (and it really has) but because I am actually excited to get going on my NaNoWriMo (or in my case, NaNoFiMo challenge.

It’s one of my quirks, unfortunately, that I get distracted by new and shiny things, ones unspoiled by actual execution. But here’s how I think I got me right in the procrastination: I’ve made the old feel new again by setting it up in a whole different way.

It’s a contest with myself, and a way to push my finishing power all in one. And, even better, I completed another round of edits on my manuscript, so I think I’ll be ready to go once November 1 hits.

I should probably temper my excitement a little, though. Don’t want to use it all up before November.

We all have weaknesses, some larger than others, some more destructive than others. But we are creative people, and we can figure out creative solutions to deal with those weaknesses. Losing steam?

Create a new steam source.

Anyone else get easily distracted? What do you do?

Check out  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only).

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How You Know It’s the Right Challenge

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So yesterday I blogged about the version of NaNoWriMo I’ll be doing, which I’ve dubbed NaNoFiMo, or National Novel Finishing Month. I plan to take cobwebby, partially-written manuscripts and finish them, while hitting at least 50,000 words in the process.

Is it technically a NaNo? Maybe, maybe not, but it’s exactly the challenge I need right now. In fact, I am feeling excited at the prospect (feel free to throw these words back at me around November 17).

Sometimes, in life, you need a challenge to spark something. There’s a rush of adrenaline that happens, even though the only thing that might be in danger with this kind of test is your word count. And, sometimes in life, the challenge you need is not necessarily the challenge everyone else needs. Or anyone else needs.

There’s a good chance this decision might leave me dizzy, or disoriented, as I leap from world to world, universe to universe, possibly genre to genre, depending on the partial first drafts that make the cut. But I know it’s the right challenge for me in this moment because I am absolutely ready to take it on.

Excited to take it on.

Writing is a tough sport (if poker is a sport, writing is a sport. There’s infinitely more bluffing). While there are physical restraints like the amount of time you can simply sit, or how quickly you can type, or how you feel after typing for hours, the biggest restraint is mental. Throwing the gauntlet in the face of no one but yourself offers a chance to really see what you can do.

Anyone else looking forward to NaNo? Cowering in fear? Ten days out, how are you feeling?

Check out  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only).

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